Here is a little backstory for those who may not know about the Future/Ciara/Russell drama. Future and Ciara used to be a thing. They were more than a thing; they were engaged to be married, and they had a child together. They eventually broke up, and Ciara is now married to Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, and is pregnant with his twins.
In any celebrity relationship, people will have their opinions, and when celebs break up, people will choose sides. But this situation seems a bit different to me. Since Future and Ciara split, thousands of people have been slandering Ciara like they know her personally. The internet, especially Twitter, is full of people who wish Ciara ill will. I recently saw a tweet rejoicing at the fact that Ciara, pregnant with twins, was in a car accident. These kind of posts usually include the idea that Ciara broke Future’s heart, or that it is okay to speak this way of her because of the fact that she left Future. People will try to justify this by saying “calm down, it’s a joke.” While I know it’s part of internet culture to roast people and joke around, some things really do point to a deeper issue, and I believe this is one of those things.
Let’s begin with the fact that no one besides Future, Ciara, and possibly their loved ones know exactly what happened and why they split up. There were bits and pieces of transcripts posted online from their court appearances, and these transcripts did not paint Future as the saint that people act like he is. Why, then, is everyone jumping to his defense, even so long after the whole thing happened? Why is everyone so willing to degrade Ciara, and even go to the point of rejoicing over the idea of harm to her and her babies? The answer is simple. People have such a disregard for black women, that is doesn’t matter whether or not we are happy. Whether or not we are disrespected. Whether or not we are harmed.
Malcolm X himself said “The most disrespected woman in America, is the black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the black woman. The most neglected person in America, is the black woman.” He said that in 1962, and it is still true in 2017. This can be seen in media portrayals of black women, in the way black women are treated in daily life, in the lack of focus on black women in social justice movements. It can especially be seen in the statistics surrounding black women. Black women make up only 8% of the population, but in 2005 accounted for 22% of the intimate partner homicide victims and 29% of all female victims of intimate partner homicide. Many black women also experience sexual violence. Approximately 40% of black women report coercive contact of a sexual nature by age 18. Black women are told we must be “strong,” aka ignore our feelings and our trauma, and remain silent and supportive of our men. This is why people are so okay with this treatment of Ciara. They think they can disrespect her because she is a black woman, and they hate her for wanting to do better. It’s not about whether or not she “broke Future’s heart.” Beyoncé made not only a whole deeply personal album, but also an accompanying film, to talk about how her man broke her heart. Where is the outrage at Jay-Z? Why was everyone so quick to forgive? Granted, they are still together, and that may play a role. But it doesn’t play the whole role.
The “jokes”, the misrepresentation, the lack of representation, the silencing of our voices, the disregard for our bodies—all these things culminate to perpetuate a culture that is very hostile towards and dangerous for black women. We need to be aware of the messages that we put forward. I am a black woman, and I understand firsthand how these views of black women impact me personally, as well as black women at large. If you are a black man making these kinds of jokes and perpetuating these ideas about—and subsequently this violence towards—black women, then you need to check yourself. As black men, you should be wanting the best for and protecting you black sisters. And as people in general, we should all be looking out for each other. Jokes matter. Words matter. Choose them wisely.